Nigeria’s President, Muhammadu Buhari, has said he was committed to the rule of law and press freedom and would continue to ensure that both tenets of democracy are abided by his administration.
He said this during his Democracy Day speech on Friday, adding that he would work to uphold the constitution and the rule of law in the country.
Buhari’s administration is notorious for cracking down on journalists, activists, critics and protesters.
The World Press Freedom Index describes Nigeria as one of the most dangerous and difficult countries to practice journalism in the world as journalists are often spied on, attacked, arbitrarily arrested or even killed.
In August 2019, rights activist, Omoyele Sowore was arbitrarily arrested and detained for calling for peaceful protests against bad governance in the country.
Buhari said, “This administration is focused on ensuring that Nigeria would always be governed by the rule of law and I would do my utmost to uphold the constitution and protect the lives and property of all Nigerians.
“Government has initiated a number of policies and programmes designed to promote the legal rights of Nigerians, facilitate the institutionalization of a responsive legal system, provide support to all constituted bodies in implementing their mandates and improve our custodial system of justice.
“I would also like to convey our deep appreciation to members of the press for your doggedness in the struggle for attainment of democracy since the beginning of our nationhood.
Full Speech: President Muhammadu Buhari’s Democracy Day Address
“I must admit that the relationship between the media and successive governments has not always been perfect. But there is no denying the fact that you have been an effective watchdog for the society especially in holding public officers to account.
“It is sad that in the course of securing our democracy, some of your colleagues have had to pay a heavy price.
“We will continue to guarantee freedom of the press as we place a high premium on responsible journalism that is devoid of hate speech, fake news and other unethical professional conduct.”
Saharareporters, New York